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Tennis Already Underway Again As Medvedev, Monfils, Wawrinka And Others Take The Court In Saudi Arabia

By Ricky Dimon

What offseason? Who needs rest?

It’s not technically part of the 2020 campaign, but tennis is already back in action with the Diriyah Tennis Cup in Saudi Arabia this week–just a couple of weeks following the 2019 Davis Cup Finals. Preparations for the upcoming year are beginning for Daniil Medvedev, Fabio Fognini, Gael Monfils, David Goffin, Stan Wawrinka, John Isner, Lucas Pouille, Jan-Lennard Struff, and Michael Mmoh.

Quarterfinal matches at the eight-man exhibition event took place on Thursday, when Medvedev, Fognini, Monfils, and Goffin advanced. Medvedev struggled at the end of this past season due mostly to understandable fatigue, but he was the dominant player that we saw throughout the summer when he took the court against Struff. The 23-year-old cruised 6-3, 6-1.

“It was a great match,” Medvedev said. “It is never easy to play during the preseason and to know how you are playing. Today it was really good to beat Jan because he is one of the best players. It was a bit windy so it was a bit different for both players, I really like the surface here…. My goal is to win every match I have, because I hate to lose.”

Monfils also did not come close to losing, as he erased Wawrinka 6-3, 6-3.

“The beginning was a bit tough, but then I had the fire back and enjoyed the game,” the Frenchman explained. “It was great tennis from my side and I had a really good time on the court. To be honest I am still in 2019, so I don’t think about it. But my goal is very clear: I want to get in shape and I really want to be Top 5. I want to play tough again.“

“It was a tough battle, but for my first match it was good,” Wawrinka commented. “I already lost to him this year in Rotterdam; I started well, but he played better than me. It was a bit windy, so a bit difficult for both players to play on a great level. Gael is a very good friend on tour, so it is always nice to share the court with him. So we really enjoyed it today. I think the support was good and I am really happy playing here…. The court is great; it is nice to play on. And here (there) are amazing facilities.”

Fognini joined Medvedev and Monfils in the semis by defeating Isner 7-6(4), 6-4, while Goffin got the best of Pouille 6-2, 6-4. Pouille then withdrew from the event because of injury and was replaced by Saudi-born Michael Mmoh, who lost to Struff in a consolation contest on Friday. Isner beat Wawrinka in straight sets and will face Struff in the fifth-place match on Saturday.

In the winners’ bracket, Fognini maintained momentum with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Monfils. The Italian will meet Medvedev in the championship match after the Russian dominated Friday’s nightcap 6-3, 6-3 against Goffin. 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.


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